Health Secretary Steve Barclay quotes inaccurate figures for NHS dentistry

Health Secretary Steve Barclay quotes inaccurate figures for NHS dentistry

The Health Secretary quoted inaccurate figures on the number of dentists carrying out NHS dentistry, sparking calls for better data. 

Health Secretary Steve Barclay claimed that ‘around two thirds of dentists do not go on to do NHS work’ when discussing the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.

However he was meant to say ‘around one third of dentists do not do NHS work’, according to a ministerial correction on the UK parliament Hansard.

The inaccurate claim that ‘two thirds’ of dentists do not work in the NHS after training was quoted to support a potential new policy to encourage dental graduates to work within the NHS.

Put forward in the workforce plan, it suggested NHS England would ‘explore measures with the government such as a tie-in period to encourage dentists to spend a minimum proportion of their time delivering NHS care in the years following graduation’.

Dentistry’s top stories

Fixing the system

The BDA has criticised the plans for a ‘tie in’, suggesting it fails to tackle the root of the problem. Instead, it emphasises the importance of contract reform to help make the NHS a place dentists would choose to build a career.

BDA chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘Dodgy numbers make for a nice soundbite. But not for sound policy to tackle the crisis in NHS dentistry.

‘A failed contract is forcing dentists out of the NHS every day it remains in force. Ministers need to start by fixing a broken system, not by handcuffing young dentists to it.’

‘Absolute nonsense’

However dentist and clinical adviser Nishma Sharma has suggested that many headlines regarding the ‘tie in’ were misleading.

‘This suggestion went straight to the “Daily Fail”, which led with the headline that dentists will be forced to stay in the NHS,’ she said.

‘This is just catastrophising and it’s absolute nonsense. For those who do feel they need more support, it shouldn’t be seen as a tie in, but rather more time spent on foundation training or mentorship within an NHS environment.

‘What’s wrong with that? I do think that should be more by way of keeping them within the NHS – it’s not “practising”, and then do it privately on “real patients”.’

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar